Sinn Fein on track for unprecedented victory in Northern Ireland election | World

Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the IRA, is close to winning Northern Ireland’s election for the first time. If that happens, it will be a historic milestone that could make the once remote possibility of a united Ireland more likely.

According to Friday’s data, Sinn Fein won 29% of the vote compared to 21.3% for the pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party.

  • Separatist party could become biggest in Northern Ireland’s Parliament and appoint prime minister

This indicates that Sinn Fein is set to become the first Irish nationalist party to win a majority of seats in a regional assembly election since the state’s creation in 1921.

“Sinn Fein on the way to becoming prime minister is an earthquake” for Northern Irish politics, said Bill White, chief executive of research firm Lucid Talk.

A clerk with ballots in Belfast, Northern Ireland on May 6, 2022 — Photo: Jason Cairnduff/AP

A victory for Sinn Fein would not change the status of the British region, as the referendum necessary for an eventual departure from the United Kingdom would be held at the discretion of the British government and is likely years away.

But the psychological implications of a nationalist Irish prime minister would be enormous after a century of dominance by pro-British parties, supported by the region’s mostly Protestant population.

Demographic trends have long indicated that they would eventually be defeated by nationalist parties, predominantly Irish Catholics, who are in favor of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

Under Northern Ireland’s proportional representation voting system, the party that wins the most first-preference votes is not guaranteed to win more regional assembly seats, but many analysts say Sinn Fein’s lead was too big to take away.

Final results are not expected to come out until Saturday.

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